Manchester WI

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A PR job for Oxfam, in Manchester’s Northern Quarter gets a great show in the MEN features section.

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Manchester’s branch of the Women’s Institute is one of the biggest and fastest-growing in the country.

With over 100 members, many of whom are young professionals who love vintage fashion and are passionate about women’s rights, the typical member is far removed from the stereotype of the middle-aged jam-making housewife from the shires.

The branch is now planning a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party to raise money for Oxfam’s work with woman around the world suffering poverty, discrimination and domestic violence.

Inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland, WI members are inviting women to dress up and sport their most wonderful headwear at the Manchester Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, with celebrity cake sale.

The party will take place on Saturday, March 9, to coincide with celebrations across the globe for International Women’s Day on March 8, at Manchester’s Virgin Money Lounge on King Street between 1pm and 4pm.
Manchester WI co-founders and local businesswomen Lucy Adams and Alexandra Taylor, both 24, are organising the event.

Lucy says: “Alex and I find that our lives are very busy with work and different responsibilities, so the WI is a great way of having fun and sharing common interests.

“But more importantly than just baking, fashion and fun it is important to support important women’s issues and collectively raise money for great causes, like Oxfam Get Together”.

Emma Pemberton-Eccles, a Manchester WI Member and milliner, will be creating special hats for the party added: “This will be a great opportunity for everyone to find out more about the modern face of the Women’s Institute, right here in Manchester, as well as support Oxfam at the same time.

“It promises to be a fantastic event with crafts and hats on display, as well as cakes baked by some famous faces being sold for charity. Feel free to come alone or bring your friends; you’re sure of a warm – and ‘mad’ – welcome.”

» For more information about the event please contact Manchester WI: manchesterwi@gmail.com or see facebook.com/ManchesterWomensInstitute for more details. To join the Oxfam Get Together campaign visit oxfam.org.uk/get-together.

About the WI:
Women’s Institutes (WI) are British, community-based organisations for women. The WI movement was formed in 1915 with two clear aims: to revitalise rural communities and to encourage women to become more involved in producing food during the First World War. Since then the organisation’s aims have broadened and it is now the largest women’s voluntary organisation in the UK. The organisation celebrated its 95th anniversary in 2010 and currently has approximately 208,000 members in 7,000 WIs.
The WI plays a unique role in providing women with educational opportunities and the chance to build new skills, to take part in a wide variety of activities and to campaign on issues that matter to them and their communities.
Women’s Institutes in England, Wales, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man are affiliated to the National Federation of Women’s Institutes. In Scotland and Northern Ireland there are similar organisations tied to the WI through the Associated Country Women of the World: the Scottish Women’s Rural Institutes and the Women’s Institutes of Northern Ireland.

The WI movement began at Stoney Creek, Ontario in Canada in 1897 when Adelaide Hoodless addressed a meeting for the wives of members of the Farmers’ Institute. WIs quickly spread throughout Ontario and Canada, with 130 branches launched by 1905 in Ontario alone, and the groups flourish in their home province today. As of 2013, the Federated Women’s Institutes of Ontario (FWIO) had more than 300 branches with more than 4,500 members.
The first WI meeting in England and Wales took place on 11 September 1915 at Llanfairpwll on Anglesey in North Wales. The WI was originally set up in the UK to revitalise rural communities and to encourage women to become more involved in producing food during the First World War.

Former Buttonville Women’s Institute Hall in Markham, Ontario, Canada. The WI closed in the 1980s, the hall is now used as a daycare and a community centre.
The WI celebrated its 95th anniversary in 2010 and today plays a unique role in enabling women to gain new skills, take part in wide-ranging activities and campaign on issues that matter to them and their communities. The WI is a diverse organisation open to all women, and there are now WIs in towns and cities as well as villages.
The WI’s archives are kept at the Women’s Library at London Metropolitan University ref 5FWI and are open to the public.
Women’s Institutes were formed in Scotland and Northern Ireland independently to those in England and Wales. The first Women’s Rural Institute started in Scotland on 26 June 1917, and Madge Watt travelled up from London to speak to a meeting at Longniddry. After the end of the Great War, Watt returned to Canada where she continued as an activist for the interests of rural women. In 1930 she founded the Associated Country Women of the World (ACWW).
After the end of the First World War, the Board of Agriculture withdrew its sponsorship, although the Development Commission financially supported the work of the forming of new WIs and gave core funding to the NFWI until it could become financially independent. By 1926 the Women’s Institutes were fully independent and rapidly became an essential part of rural life.
One of their features was an independence from political parties or institutions, or church or chapel, which encouraged activism by non-establishment women, which helps to explain why the WI has been extremely reluctant to support anything that can be construed as war work, despite their wartime formation. During the Second World War, they limited their contribution to such activities as looking after evacuees, and running the Government-sponsored Preservation Centres where volunteers canned or made jam of excess produce. All this produce was sent to depots to be added to the rations.

During the 1920s, many WIs started choirs and NFWI set up a music committee and appointed a Mr Leslie as an advisor.
Mr Leslie held a one-day school for village conductors in London in early 1924. He asked his friend Sir Walford Davies to write an arrangement of Hubert Parry’s setting of Jerusalem, for WI choirs. This hymn with its association with the fight for women’s suffrage was appropriate for the newly emerging WI movement which was encouraging women to take their part in public life, and to fight to improve the conditions of rural life.
Mr Leslie suggested that Walford Davies’ special arrangement for choir and string orchestra should be performed at the Annual General Meeting of NFWI held in the Queen’s Hall, London in 1924. He himself conducted the singing, bringing a choir from local WIs with him to lead.
This was so successful that it has been sung at the opening of NFWI AGMs to this day. Many WIs also open meetings by singing Jerusalem. Although it has never actually been adopted as the WI’s official anthem, in practice it holds that position.
On the 18th June 2010 a new `modern` version of Jerusalem was recorded at Abbey Road Studios, London. It features the entrants that applied for the `WI Search for a Star` competition. It is due for release on CD later in 2010.

The importance of home prepared foods is of continuing importance and the institute runs its own markets, WI markets, where home made produce is sold. Modern hygiene regulations have made this activity more complicated, but so entwined are the ideals of the hymn and ongoing self-sufficiency that the ideology of the organisation is often summarised as “Jam and Jerusalem” WI fetes, cookery, and judging have frequently been satirised by Little Britain’s “Maggie and Judy” sketches. Maggie Blackamoor is often perceived in the UK as the archetypal member of the WI.

 

 

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